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Saint Étienne

Last weekend, my friend and I went to a city close to Lyon that we had never heard of before. It was a last-minute plan, the day before, my friend sent me message asking if I was working tomorrow and I said, 'No, why? Where do you want to take me? '. And the answer was, to Saint Étienne!

Had it not been for my friend, I would never have thought to go to Saint Etienne as it was not really a place that particularly caught my attention. However, since I was free that day, I gathered I had nothing to lose and I thought I would definitely end up enjoying the day with my friend... and so it was decided!

How to get there?

In France, one of the main means of transport is the train. They are very fast and you can get to places quite far away in only a short time. As well as this, thanks to a new law that has recently been passed, more bus routes are operating. Although it takes longer to get from one place to another, the cheaper price makes it a more popular option.

You can consider both of these two options to get to Saint Etienne. However, there is a third alternative: covoiturage or "car sharing". You might have already heard of it. A person who is driving to a certain location can offer transport to other people who want to go to the same place as them, or pick them up from other places on the way to their destination. The price is a lot more affordable than the trains too. The covoiturage is also a good choice when the bus schedules are not so convenient. I will explain this in more detail in another article and tell you how the system works.

So as you can imagine, we went by covoiturage. We had compared and the price of train ticket (only one way! ) which worked out as approximately 11. 50€ (and that included the discount for students under 25). But when my friend checked the journeys on Blablacar (the covoiturage website), we found a return trip that cost us 9. 60€. And so we booked it and got ready for our day in Saint Etienne.

Our day...

We met the driver at the train station in Perrache who picked us up at 9. 30am who took us from Lyon to Saint Etienne. The ride was pleasant and it went quickly (mmm, maybe because I slept for a while haha). We arrived at Saint Etienne at around 10:30am.

Jean Jaurès Square and The Cathedral of Saint Charles Borromeo

The girl dropped us off right in the city centre so the first thing we saw was the Jean Jaurès Sqaure. (Jean Jaurès was a famous French socialist politician. In France, there are several streets, squares and avenues named after him. In Lyon, for example, there is a metro station and a main street that are named after him. )

It is a large esplanade, with gardens, benches and it is decorated with numerous statues and monuments. One of the ones that caught our attention was the upper half of a woman's body that was dedicated to someone notable from the city. However, what we found most interesting was the decorations beside it; small sculptures of a group of monks quarrelling and arguing! Although we tried to see who the monument was dedicated to, we couldn't because the writing engraved on it it was virtually unintelligible...

saint-etienne-05e86b52de041bac4b11216bde¿Ya vieron a los monjes peleoneros? :P

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Just at the side of the square, we found the cathedral; The Cathedral of Saint Charles Borromeo. From the outside it wasn't that impressive, and in my opinion, it wasn't as pretty as the other churches in France. However, do not judge a book by its cover, because the interior was very pretty. It is a Gothic cathedral and so it doesn't have as many details as other Baroque churches (which are my favourite style). But what stands out most about it is the beautiful and colourful stained glass windows, mosaics and walls.

saint-etienne-49e3290a942dc75f5b3923393dBueno, observando nuevamente la foto, debo decir que la fachada sí está bonita ^^

saint-etienne-af25513c53fe91e66517a21edfFoto del interior de la Catedral

The stained glass and mosaics represented various saints, including Joan of Arc. In case you do not know, she was a French heroine and Saint, and still remains a mythical figure in the history of this country. To this day, the image of Joan of Arc continues to be used even politically, for both right and left political parties.

saint-etienne-e25d90cd9f37f263e92442a517Mosaico de Juana de Arco

We left the cathedral and crossed the square again to where we came across a fountain and a garden. At the end of that little garden, there was little bandstand which made me think of the bandstands I have seen the cities and towns in Mexico. And I imagined a Mexican orchestra playing tradition music from my country.

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I really like the gardens in France because they always have pretty flowers and they are really well kept.

Hôtel de Ville square and our breakfast...

After taking some photos, we started to get a little hungry (it is tiring being a tourist). And we hadn't eaten much for breakfast before we left Lyon. As we wanted to keep walking and visiting different points of the city, and it was almost lunchtime, I suggested to my friend that we looked for a little bakery or a café where we could get something light.

We walked along Gerentet street and came to a square where we saw the Hôtel de Ville. On this street, you can find all the important squares of the city. The square is named 'Place Hôtel du Ville' because the Saint Etienne Hôtel de Ville is also located there, ie the local council. After seeing the magnificent Hôtel de Ville in Lyon, the one here in Saint Etienne did not seem that remarkable. However, it still had some beautiful architectural details.

We went to the bakery, "La Mie Câline", where I bought an almond croissant and a hot chocolate. My friend bought a normal croissant and also a hot chocolate. We paid around 2. 10€ each and went to sit at one of the tables in the Place de Hôtel de Ville.

(By the way, the breakfast we got was really good and cheap, in cafes and other establishments, that's more or less what it costs for a quick pastry and hot drink. You can consider this option when you're really hungry but you don't want to waste money buying a meal).

Travelling with girls means shopping!

After we had our light breakfast, it was then time for us to go shopping! When I travel, I don't usually spend on clothes and shoes, I'd rather save and spend my money on food, desserts or tickets to visit specific tourist sites. However, my friend said, "We're going shopping, the sales are on", and so off we went!

We went to Camaïeu, where I saw and fell in love with a scarf... it was so nice but also so expensive, 26 € and it was synthetic. I also saw some high heeled black boots, and I had been looking for some like that for ages. At first, I was not sure but eventually gave in to temptation because although they were heels, they were very comfortable. They cost me 35€. My friend bought a scarf and a shirt. We both left very happy with our purchases. (By the way, Camaïeu is a chain and they have lots of shops all around France).

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There were lots of restaurants, cafés and bars on this street. When we got to the square, the fountain really caught my attention. I asked my friend to take a photo of me infront of it!

We then went to Pimkie (another chain), which was on the same street. They also had some sales on, and there were some other boots that I liked that weren't too expensive, but I was happy enough with my first pair. In both of these shops you can find pretty stuff for a good price.

A very special building... and some cats!

We continued walking around and we headed for the tourist office (which was supposed to be the first place we went to when we arrived) along Avenue de la Libération, and we saw a building decorated with statues of cats! Yes, a building that was decorated with two statues of cats, one even had a collar on with a little bell. I was amazed because I never thought that there would be a building decorated with cats (and I am a huge animal lover! )

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It is a shame that my camera can't zoom in anymore to take clearer photos and you could have seen the detail of the statue more clearly! And you could have seen its little collar and bell!

saint-etienne-ee6bba722e6b77bf68a24b4031A cat playing with a toy!

Time to eat...

After taking some photos, we arrived at the Tourist Office. We asked the girl what she would recommend to visit and if there was something that we had to see before we went back to Lyon. She told us about the Desing Museum and the modern area in Saint Etienne, but because we didn't have loads of time this kind of architecture didn't really interest me. So we then asked her what was a good place to go and eat and she told us to go to Rue des Martys de Vingré.

She gave us the name of somewhere specific because when we had walked that way earlier on in the day, we saw that the prices were expensive and we didn't really fancy going to any of the restaurants that we had already seen. The advantage was that there were lots of places to eat there and when we passed a bar/restaurant we saw some girls eating hamburgers so we decided to go there!

The place was called Picadilly Circus. There was an outside terrace with a few tables and some more inside. Because it was sunny, we decided to sit outside. When we got there it had just gone 2. 00pm and we told the girl we wanted to eat and not just a drink but because of the time (in France, restaurants usually only serve in between 12 and 2) she wasn't sure whether they were still serving. She went to ask and she came back and said that they could still serve hamburgers which was great because it was just what we wanted. We ordered the cheapest which cost 11€. It wasn't too bad as it came with some fries and a salad.

saint-etienne-fc4da35440b588e72cc151117e We enjoyed the meal although I thought the salad could have been a little bigger!

And dessert!

Earlier on, when we were looking for a place to eat on Rue des Martys de Vingré, we saw a shop that sold little cakes called Bruno Montcoudiol Pâtissier Chocolatier. So after we finished our burger, we chose somewhere else to go and get some dessert. I normally always go for the same thing, either a lemon or raspberry tart with meringue. They are my favourite! But there was one cake that caught my eye, a chestnut and cream cake with cranberries! Because I like red fruit, I decided to try this little sweet treat... and it was incredible! And it only cost me 2. 75€. A small (and delectable) treat isn't bad every now and again.

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My delicious cake! I didn't eat it all at once because I wanted to enjoy it and save some for later at home, with a yummy coffee.

Oh and you can see that the store is rather chic and gourmet. When we were there, a girl came to buy two cakes, not very big, for around 6 or 8 people and paid 40 €. It seems expensive but the presentation (and the taste of their products! ), it is definitely worth going to try something there.

The end of the visit

It was almost time to go back, our covoiturage was picking us up at 4:20 pm from the Saint-Etienne train station. We saw on the map that we weren't that far away from it, only about four tram stops. We could have walked it but we didn't want to risk it so we took the tram instead. We made the right decision because we realized that the station looked closer on the map than it actually was in reality. From where we were, in the centre, there weren't many tram stops but the walk would have took a while.

Oh and by the way, the train station in Saint Etienne is close to the football stadium. If you didn't know already, Saint Etienne has a famous football team. And their stadium will host some of the matches during the Euro 2016.

Conclusion

Anyway, that was our day in Saint Etienne, a city that I had never really considered visiting, but I really enjoyed the visit and everything that we did, saw, bought and ate that day. If you find yourself with nothing to do one weekend and you live near Lyon, Sainte Etienne is worth visiting.

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The landscape on the way back to Lyon, the autumn hills.


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